If you talked with business leaders, managers, and workers about employee monitoring software last year, they would probably call it an excessive and intrusive tool. But the COVID-19 pandemic has businesses rebuild work-from-home policies. Hence, this industry is now booming.
Managers have now come to realization that employees can, in fact, work remotely and still finish their jobs. Unfortunately, many of them do not have the first-hand experience with remote work, and they can not figure out what to do to ensure high productivity while tracking the daily attendance of their remote workers.
Employee monitoring solutions have proven to be helpful for companies from different aspects, yet some people raise their concerns about its ethical side.
So let’s see what makes employee monitoring ethical and what not.
1. Do not monitor your employees in secret
The number one reason why people find the monitoring practice illegal is that many employers do it without the concern of the workers. It is not only unethical but even illegal in some cases. It is though considered legal when employers suspect malpractice and want to utilize the software to catch employees red-handed. To make employee monitoring ethical, employers must briefly acknowledge their team members about this tool or they could face some serious consequences, such as financial loss and reputation damage.
If you do not want to be that victim, make sure to inform your employees about the employee monitoring software. Do create a monitoring policy and explain well what will be monitored, which data should be kept in store for future reference, what resources will be used for storing, and who will have access to them.
2. Monitor employees only during work hours
“Monitoring after work-hour” is a sensitive issue in the current world. It is quite common for employees to use business laptops for personal activities during break time, and when they are off the shift. If your monitoring software is active during these hours, it will record sensitive personal data, which could lead you to face serious trouble.
To avoid such issues eternally, create rules indicating employees not to use the company-owned laptops for personal activities, or allow your team members to stop the time tracker once their shift is over and pause it during the time break. This will help to get the mental support of your employees as they will have full control over the tool and make employee monitoring ethical.
3. Have options to avoid collecting personal data
Employee monitoring software comes with a screenshot feature that allows you to know if the employees are staying on the right track with work. Although this feature serves as proof of work, taking them at the wrong times (i.e: when an employee is surfing on social sites or checking personal bank accounts) would lead to gathering personal data that has no means of relation to your work.
If the screenshot option is necessary, find a software that will limit taking screenshots only to the working hours pause action when the time clock is paused. As an employer, you need to understand nature of work your employees have and pick the features accordingly so that the usage of this tool is optimum and does not spark any offense.
4. Use collected data only for business purposes
Employee monitoring is only ethical when your ways of collecting data and ways of using them are correct. If you adopt monitoring software just for the sake of “following the trend” or to spy on your employees, you are basically wasting your time.
To get the best out of it and make your employees an active part of it, create a proper plan. Figure out what is the purpose of you using employee monitoring software, which data you need, and set up the goals accordingly. For example, if you want to use an employee monitoring software for productivity-boosting of the team, make sure your software can track productivity and idle times of each employee (most monitoring software have the option to do it automatically).
Once you get that information in hand, find the reasons behind productivity going down. Is this because your employees have to spend too much time in meetings? Or, is this because your employees spend unnecessary time on social media? Narrate down the issues for performance bottlenecks and solve them by talking to your employees. Figure out how you can eliminate distractions to minimize those problems.
Some people may disagree, but employee monitoring can be ethical with the right steps. It is really up to you whether your employee monitoring process will be ethical or not. To help yourself find the right decision, imagine how you would feel if your daily work was being monitored? In the end, do follow the four simple rules from the above so that you do not have to face any ethical issues.